Acoustic Guitar Strings – Strings By Mail

Let’s take a look at the wide world of Acoustic Guitar Strings. There are many acoustic guitar string manufacturers around the world who provide a wide variety of strings for a very diverse audience.

When we are talking about acoustic guitars and their associated strings in this article, we are referring to the traditional “steel string” acoustic guitars that are generally hollow with a soundhole(s), and are constructed to transmit sound by vibration – (vs. electric guitars, which rely on their magnetic pickups to transmit the sound electronically). However, there are also many acoustic guitars that offer a variety of pickups so that they can also be used in methods similar to electric guitars.

Acoustic Strings

Acoustic Guitar Strings – Strings By Mail

Acoustic guitars and their corresponding strings also differ from Classical or Flamenco style guitars (which are also acoustic in the sense that they rely on vibrations to project sound). These Classical or Flamenco guitars most often utilize their own nylon based “classical strings” that produce much less tension on the guitar’s neck vs. steel strings, so these Classical or Flamenco style guitars cannot use the same strings as a “steel string” acoustic because of the much higher tension of the acoustic strings, and vice versa. However, Thomastik-Infeld has created an exception with a low tension steel string made just for classical guitars.

Acoustic Guitar Used In Many Different Music Styles

The ever growing popularity of the acoustic guitar has been, and is frequently used, across many genres of music, such as Acoustic Rock & Roll, Country, Bluegrass, Folk, etc… The acoustic guitar is also a very popular tool for singer/songwriters, as they are easy to pick up and play when inspiration strikes. It is also a great instrument to have on display in the home, should a musically inclined guest come to visit.

The two most common types of acoustic guitars and associated string sets are of the 6-string and 12-string guitars. And there are also many other popular variations as well, such as 7-string guitars, 8-string guitars, and Baritone guitars.

Unfortunately, guitar strings do not last forever, as acoustic guitar strings do tend to deteriorate over time from playing, as well as from oxidation of the string materials. To keep your acoustic guitar sounding as good as possible & easy to play as possible, fresh strings are a must. Purchasing new strings, or selecting a different style string set, is also a great way to change the playability or dramatically enhance the sound potential of your acoustic guitar.

Acoustic Guitar Strings differ from each other by brand or manufacturer, gauge or thickness, materials they are made of, and from the various manufacturing techniques employed in the process. All of these differences help to provide a wide variety of sound and playing options for acoustic guitar players across the globe, and are adaptable to a wide and ever growing variety of playing styles.

Acoustic Guitar String Gauges

String Gauges are usually listed on the package when you are looking at a set of acoustic guitar strings. They are usually written out from the first string to the sixth string when dealing with standard six string guitars (ie. .013 to .056), and sometimes every string gauge is detailed on the package along with the associated category of the gauge (ie. Medium Heavy – .013, .017, .026, .034, .045, .056). Some other popular string gauge categories are Extra Light, Light, Medium, Heavy, and every other in-between or custom gauges that string manufacturers can provide to meet the needs of their customers.

Strings By Mail Presentation | Acoustic Guitar Strings

Materials Used in Acoustic Guitar Strings

The various materials that acoustic guitar strings are made of can have a very dramatic effect on how the strings sound, play, and feel. Plain steel strings, for example, are a harder material that helps to produce brighter sounds at a greater volume. However, these steel strings are so hard that they can also wear down a guitar’s frets faster over time. Meanwhile softer metals, such as gold, can produce warmer and a more mellow sounding tone – and are a little less abrasive on your guitar’s frets. String materials and their outer wrapping (wound) can also be made out of nickel, bronze, phosphor bronze, and silver, as well as many other materials and combinations, such as silk and steel, silk and bronze, and copper bronze.

Manufacturing Techniques Used In Making Acoustic Guitar Strings

Some manufacturing techniques used during the wiring/wrapping process of the higher gauge strings really help to differentiate the strings for their intended instruments and various users. The core wire of acoustic guitar strings are most often made of some sort of metal and their shape is usually round or hex shaped. This core is then wound with an outer wire or wrapping, and is done mechanically or by hand.

Outer Windings

The outer winding most often used is called roundwound, where a round outer wire is tightly wrapped around the round or hex shaped core wire. Flatwound strings utilize a winding that sits a little more flat in comparison to the roundwound strings. These flatwounds are slightly lower in profile, providing guitar players a more comfortable playing experience with the strings feeling closer to the fretboard. Flatwound strings also help to eliminate the finger squeak when sliding from note to note, and tend to be a little more gentle on fret and fretboard wear. Double wound strings are yet another process that helps to provide a warmer and more mellow sound and a unique feel.

Some acoustic guitar strings can go through yet another wrapping/finishing process where they can be further manipulated by grinding down or polishing the strings for sound quality and playability. Flat Tops acoustic strings are made semi-flat through a 3 step polishing process, providing a smooth playing surface that helps reduce finger noise without sacrificing tone.


There are also various methods of styles of treated and coated strings. These coatings help to protect the strings from oxidation, and from the natural oils from players’ fingers. Coated strings can also help strings to last longer over time, however they can produce a somewhat darker sound and may initially seem a bit muted compared to uncoated strings. Plating acoustic guitar strings is another technique that can change the sound of the strings. Gold, nickel, silver, and tin are some of the more common materials used on when plating acoustic guitar strings.

We would like to leave you with some questions to help guide you toward your pursuit of tonal happiness. Do you have a favorite brand or style of strings for your acoustic guitar? What type of music do you play and what kind of acoustic guitars do you use them on? Why do you choose specific brands, gauges, manufacturing materials, processes, or coatings? Do the acoustic guitar strings you choose respond exactly the way your guitar desires, or does it beg for something better?

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